BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets slipped but European shares opened higher as disappointing jobs figures from the U.S. and Europe were weighed against earlier data showing moderate manufacturing growth in major economies.
Investor nerves was tested by a report that showed U.S. businesses adding far fewer jobs in April than they did in March. The private survey by payroll processor ADP said U.S. businesses added 119,000 jobs in April, down from 201,000 in March.
The Economic Policy Institute calculates that the United States would have to create 350,000 jobs a month for three years to return to pre-recession employment levels. The U.S. government releases its monthly figures, which include the public sector, on Friday. The ADP report, which was released Wednesday, and the government report can vary sharply.
In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent to 5,773.15. Germany's DAX gained 0.6 percent to 6,753.33 and France's CAC-40 added 0.6 percent to 3,247.06.
Wall Street appeared headed for a flat open, with Dow Jones industrial futures nearly unchanged at 13,206. S&P 500 futures were marginally higher at 1,398.30.
Dickie Wong of Kingston Securities Ltd. in Hong Kong characterized the losses in Asian markets as "just a pullback." He said traders might be overreacting to the latest employment data since the unemployment rate has fallen from 9.1 percent in August to 8.2 percent in March — the lowest level since January 2009.
"The employment market has actually been improving over the past few months," Wong said. In addition, recent manufacturing data was "actually better than expected."
U.S. manufacturing expanded last month at its strongest pace since June, the Institute for Supply Management reported earlier this week. That news came on top of a similar report out of China, the world's No. 2 economy.
The state-affiliated China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its purchasing managers index rose to 53.3 percent in April, up from March's 53.1 and February's 51.0. A reading above 50 signifies expansion.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.3 percent to 21,249.53, a day after posting strong gains. But mainland Chinese shares edged higher, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index up 0.1 percent at 2,440.08. The Shenzhen Composite Index gained 0.6 percent to 961.99.
"The market actually performed pretty well today after the big gains Wednesday, though the room for gains in the future is rather limited due to a lack of available funds," said Xu Xiaoyu, an analyst at China Investment Securities, based in Beijing.
South Korea's Kospi lost 0.2 percent to 1,995.11. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged down 0.2 percent to 4,429 with many traders on the sidelines ahead of the release of the national budget next week.
Markets in Japan were closed for a public holiday.
Among individual stocks, Hong Kong-listed Bank of China tumbled 3.1 percent and China Construction Bank dropped 3.1 percent after Singapore state investment company Temasek Holdings sold parts of stakes in those banks, raising about $2.5 billion.
Benchmark oil for June delivery was down 24 cents to $104.98 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 94 cents Wednesday to finish at $105.22 per barrel on the Nymex.
In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3132 from $1.3165 late Wednesday in New York. The dollar rose to 80.30 yen from 80.17 yen.